Athletics: Russia accepts 'full' doping ban

IAAF president Sebastian Coe (above) has said he wants “engagement not isolation” to settle the doping scandal.
IAAF president Sebastian Coe (above) has said he wants “engagement not isolation” to settle the doping scandal.AFP

MONACO (AFP) - Russia has accepted its "full suspension" from world athletics over widespread doping without even requesting a hearing, the IAAF said Thursday.

The most severe punishment ever meted out by the International Association of Athletics Federations was made formal at a meeting of the world body's governing council in Monaco.

Russia, which had previously denied any wrongdoing, vowed at the meeting to work with foreign inspectors so that it could be welcomed back into international competition.

Russia is anxious to be cleared to compete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.

The IAAF had provisionally suspended Russia over what a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report released this month said was "state-sponsored" doping in athletics.

An IAAF statement said an All-Russia Athletics Federation letter had been received on Wednesday "accepting their full suspension without requesting a hearing as was their constitutional right".

"ARAF confirmed they understood that the council would only accept their reinstatement as an IAAF Member following the recommendation of the IAAF inspection team who will decide if the verification criteria have been fulfilled.

"ARAF confirmed they will cooperate fully and actively with the team."

 
 

Vadim Zelichenok, ARAF's interim president, said the federation had feared an even worse punishment if an appeal was made.

"We decided that it was better to correct the situation from the very start and as quickly as possible," the Russia's R-Sport news agency quoted him as saying.

"We either agree and start correcting the deficiencies - which we have already started doing - or prolong the agony and wait until we get slammed even more seriously."

IAAF president Sebastian Coe has said he wants "engagement not isolation" to settle the doping scandal.

"We touched upon the Russian federation's situation and also noted their acceptance of the full suspension and agreement that the inspection team... will finalise the verification criteria for ARAF to be reinstated and we will do that with WADA," Coe said after the council meeting.

"There is no reason why we should not make progresss probably within the next 10 days to two weeks, via conference call, to start this process as soon as possible."

The IAAF has said the conditions must include "immediate" sanctions against Russian athletes and coaches caught doping, a law in Russia to criminalise sports doping and a system so that athletes can "safely tip-off" authorities about drug cheats.

The world body also demanded a "robust, transparent and efficient anti-doping testing programme".

But Coe added that the IAAF was "not too concerned about deadlines, it is for the IAAF to decide when ARAF is ready to return to the fold".

WADA's report accused Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA of "routinely" violating international test standards and allowing athletes banned for doping to compete.

It also accused Russian athletics chiefs of corruption and French police are now investigating former IAAF president Lamine Diack over accusations that he took bribes from Russian officials to cover up doping cases.

Diack is said to have accepted more than one million euros. A close advisor and a former IAAF anti-doping doctor have also been charged.

A second part of the WADA report is due to be released in early 2016 and its main author Dick Pound, the former WADA chief, has said it will have a "wow factor".

"I think people will say how on earth could this happen? It's a complete betrayal of what the people in charge of the sport should be doing," Pound told the British newspaper, The Independent.

Russia has already been stripped of the World Junior Championships (July 19-26 in Kazan) and the World Race Walking Team Championships (May 7-8 in Cheboksary). Their athletes are now unlikely to compete in the World Indoor Championships in Portland in March.

Coe said the IAAF was ready to under-write the two events set to be staged in Russia.

"We didn't discuss (during the council meeting) where to reallocate the events, but we did talk about the process that we would need to have in place so that first of all athletes are not penalised," he said.

The IAAF's next council meeting is in Cardiff in March.